November 21, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Resources to Make Project Management a Little Easier

By Jane Sandwood

According to Project Management South Africa, the relatively new profession is becoming an increasingly popular discipline that is in high demand at organisations using projects for strategic delivery.

Aspiring project managers should be aware of the duties of the role, by belonging to professional associations in South Africa that can help form a solid foundation from the start. By being exposed to the professional community will help you to recognise all that constitutes legitimate practices based on standards and guidelines and will show the world that you are committed to ongoing professional development.

PM ResourcesBut while project management comes with many responsibilities, there are certain resources that can make the job easier and will also lead to success. Utilising certain tools can help project managers plan, manage, and keep track of projects as well as facilitate the project team ranging from small to large. Resources can also be beneficial to develop resource plans and to control budgets and schedules.

Organisational Internet Sticks

One resource that can be particularly useful to mobile project managers is an Internet stick. Internet sticks have many benefits for individuals who are constantly moving from place to place and need access to Wi-Fi wherever they go. For project managers, there may be a need to travel to different locations for a single project, making it difficult to always find a trusted Internet connection.

But with an Internet stick, it can be possible to access free Wi-Fi no matter where you are. This can be extremely useful when visiting a range of sites that may not have open access to the Internet. Using an Internet stick is like carrying around a Wi-Fi connection in your pocket, which can save project managers much time and help them to be connected and accessible when traveling.

Digital Project Software

Another tool to make project management run more smoothly is digital project management (PPM) software. Since many projects now have virtual teams, PPM software makes it simple to integrate all parts of a project into one simple management resource. Using online PPM software allows project managers to update assignments, track progress, and be informed in real-time, which can help managers make better strategic decisions.

By utilising digital tools and resources like an Internet stick and PPM software, project managers can fulfill their duties in a professional and competent manner that will contribute to successful project delivery.

Project Management Maturity and Project Performance

project management maturityIn the difficult economic times we live in today, organisations are faced with the challenge to continuously adapt to the changing environments in order to survive and prosper. For most companies project management has become part of their competitive advantage strategy. The question is if there’s a relation between project management maturity and project performance?
This question was answered by the results from the survey done by Price Waterhouse Coopers:
Global Insights and Trends – Current Portfolio, Programme and Project Management practices

PM Maturity and Performance

Project management maturity is measured by evaluating projects on 5 performance indicators:

  1. Delivering projects on time;
  2. Within budget;
  3. To scope;
  4. To quality standards;
  5. With the intended business benefits

Project performance is evaluated around 4 core elements:

  1. Processes
  2. Organisational structure
  3. People
  4. Systems and tools

The survey results were analysed to determine the current state of project management maturity and the characteristics of higher performing projects. This article will highlight some of the key findings.

Processes

When a systematic and organised set of processes exist for project management, or in other words when a well-defined repeatable PM process is in place (can be grouped into a PM methodology) the chances are better to deliver consistently high project results.

Organisational Structure

When looking at organisation structure as an influence on PM performance the following aspects are considered:

  • Resource ownership
  • Definition of clear roles and responsibilities
  • Support from senior management
  • Use of a Project/Programme Management Office (PMO)

Results indicated that project management is critical to business performance and organisational success. Where suitable project organisational structures exist on project(s) it clearly outlines the project team and reporting relationships.
Senior management support of projects is a contributing factor to project success especially for projects that are expanding from departmental to national and international levels.
Established project management offices result in projects with higher quality and business benefits. Employing a PMO is one of many methods to institute standardized project management processes and project controls in an organisation.

People

Well-developed people management skills are fundamental to a high PM maturity level. Aspects considered in this area include: project staff skills and experience; development and training programme; and an emphasis on PM certifications.
They found that engaged, experienced staff leads to project success. Training and staff development in the field of project management has grown drastically. More PM certifications have become in demand.

Systems and Tools

Organisations purchase and create systems and tools to automate and support their PM processes. This includes the use of software for PM, Portfolio Management and Agile, as well as Earned Value Management, which is more relied on in the US as a useful tool.
The use of Portfolio Management software drives higher levels of portfolio performance and greater satisfaction with an organisation’s project management practices.

Portfolio Management

When implementing PfM, the survey results indicated that the three largest ways to be more successful include aligning the portfolio with the organisation’s strategy; using an enterprise PMO to manage the portfolio; and conducting monthly reviews. There are also several benefits to implementing Portfolio Management like:

  • Adoption of PfM has positive effects on both project performance and performance of the overall portfolio.
  • Two thirds of respondents that employ PfM reported that more than 90% of their organisation’s projects perform to expectations on the five key performance indicators. In contrast, seven out of ten organisations that do not employ PfM reported that less than 10% of their projects met the key performance indicators.

In summary, it was found that higher maturity lead to higher performance within the five key performance indicators. However, most organisations still desire a higher maturity level.
To read the full PWC Global Project Management Report, click here.

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Comparison of Project Management Software

Today I would like to make a comparison of different project management software that is out there. I must admit that being in the corporate environment for most of my career, I am an expert at using Microsoft Project as a project management software, but I have little experience with any other project management software.

I would like to encourage the reader to contribute to this article by making a comment about your favourite project management software and tell us why you prefer that software.

Wikipedia list

I have discovered this article on Wikipedia about a “comparison of notable project management software“. As an experienced project manager, I found it interesting to compare the software, that I use most often with every noteworthy software available.

The comparison is made based on collaboration, issue tracking, scheduling, project portfolio management, resource management, document management and if it’s web based.

If you are using any of the project management software on the list, please share with us your experience with that software and what you like about it in the comments section. I look forward to receiving your input.

Project Management Methodologies

I would also like to refer you to an article that I did in December 2009 about project management methodologies and standards. There you will find a short description of a number of project management methodologies which you may find interesting. You are also welcome to contribute in that comments section about project management methodologies that are not mentioned in the post or comments yet.

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8 Project Management Methodologies and Standards

You will find a more current article on PM Methodologies and Standards here: 7 Facts on Project Management Methodologies and Standards

I have decided to do a series of postings about Project Management methodologies and Project Management best practices.  The purpose for this is not to replicate information that is already out there, but to inform, equip and empower business owners and service professionals about the project management profession and how to put it to use to sustain and grow their business.

As an introduction to this I have 8 questions to help define what a methodology and a standard is based on a summary of the best information I could find and that I know from experience. I would then like to encourage the reader of this post to contribute in the form of comments towards more methodologies and standards that can be covered here (and I encourage you to link to sites that you recommend as worthwhile reading on these topics.)

1.   What is a methodology?

A methodology is a set of methods, processes and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects. It tells you what you have to do, to manage your projects from start to finish. It describes every step in the project life cycle in depth, so you know exactly which tasks to complete, when and how.

The key concept is that you repeat the same steps for every project you undertake, and by doing that, you will gain efficiencies in your approach.

2.   What is a standard?

A standard is “a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry”.

3.    What is the difference between a methodology and a standard?

Standards give you industry guidance, whereas methodologies give you practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies, and vice versa. The two most popular standards are PMBOK and Prince2.

4.   Why use a methodology?

A Project Methodology should help you by giving you a clear process for managing projects. After you have customised it to perfectly fit your environment, your methodology should tell your team what has to be completed to deliver your project, how it should be done, in which order and by when.

5.   What should be included in a project management methodology?

When you buy a project methodology, it should give you:

  • A core set of processes to follow for delivering projects
  • A set of templates to help you build deliverables quickly
  • A suite of case studies to help you learn from past projects
  • An option for customizing the methodology provided
  • The ability to import your existing processes into it

6.   What a project management methodology will not do?

A Methodology is not a silver bullet. It will not fix projects by itself or guarantee success and an efficient, effective experienced project manager is still required to deliver projects successfully. Remember that the finest carpenter’s tool-box will only be as good as the carpenter.  No methodology will be 100% applicable to every type of project. So you will need to customise any methodology you purchase to ensure that it perfectly fits your project management environment.

7.   What are the benefits of using a methodology?

By using a methodology you can:

  • Create a project roadmap
  • Monitor time, cost and quality (project triple constraint)
  • Control change and scope
  • Minimise risks and issues
  • Manage staff and suppliers

Of course, you will need to use the methodology that is most suitable to each project you undertake. For smaller projects, you will only want to apply lightweight processes and when managing large projects, you should apply the heavyweight processes to monitor and control every element of your project in depth.

But if you can manage every project you undertake in the same way, then you will gain efficiencies with your approach, work smarter and reduce your stress. You will also give your team a clear understanding of what you expect from them and boost your chances of success.

Flick - Cappellmeister

Flickr – Cappellmeister

8.  A few project management methodologies examples with short descriptions:

  • PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE) is a project management method. It covers the management, control and organisation of a project.
  • Method 123 Project Management methodology, also called MPMM (Project Management Methodology Manager) is based on the worldwide project management standards PMBOK and Prince2 and contains all of the project management templates, forms and checklists needed.
  • Ten Step Project Management Process is a methodology for managing work as a project and it’s designed to be as flexible as you need to manage your project.
  • UPMM Unified Project Management methodology based on suite of knowledge management tools.
  • AdPM – a best practices project methodology.
  • MBP- Managing by Project from X-Pert Group. Programme and Project Management methodology and services.
  • MITP – Managing Information Technology Projects. IBM’s established project management delivery method.
  • Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) is a set of principles, models, disciplines, concepts, and guidelines for delivering information technology solutions.

Please add more project management methodologies that you have used and tell us more about them.

For related Project Management articles, click here.

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